Brent Venables addresses media on 11th game week: Part I – 247Sports
NORMAN, Okla. — With now only two games remaining, the Sooners are still seeking bowl eligibility. That’s because they came up short once again in a 23-20 decision at West Virginia over the weekend at Milan Puskar Stadium.
They held a lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, the Sooners were unable to separate, then missed a field goal that would have reclaimed the lead and eventually lost on a walk-off field goal.
So, now the next chance to extend their bowl streak is in Bedlam against Oklahoma State, slated for a 6:30 p.m. CT Saturday kickoff. And with that in mind, head coach Brent Venables addressed a number of questions surrounding the team in a lengthy press conference, featuring the first part right here.
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“Yeah, it was, I thought was incredibly important. The number one thing is continuing to develop your team, practicing fundamentals. You spend a majority of your first several practices, depending on how much time you actually have to practice, you spend your first several practices with just working fundamentals. And then the good-on-good work that you do do, you’re using primarily young players and even taking time to scrimmage those guys and continue to give them game type reps. So, that’s the biggest part of it, and continuing to be around your players, continuing to nurture relationships, things of that nature, keeping them busy. Right? When your kids come home from school, you want to them stay busy, right? So, you give them a list of chores or you sign them up for activities and things like that because it’s good for them. So, [it’s the] same thing, just to continuing to provide structure and accountability and an environment where they can continue to grow and get better. You know, the seasons are different now than even they were back then. The season’s a lot longer now. So, what you typically do now is you give your guys much needed time off where they can focus on academics and things of that nature. So, typically now you’re not—this last several years, you’re not practicing as much as you used to back in the day, in ’99 and 2000 and things like that.”
“Yeah, I wouldn’t say all the mistakes aren’t the same. Every single one of them is a story of its own. Is it an effort mistake? You know, second half, second-and-10, R Mason [Thomas] makes a terrific play on the boot. He just takes a little bit of a bad angle and has to reach for the quarterback, and instead of third-and-22 it’s first-and-10 and they go on to score on that drive. That’s an effort play. So, there’s some fundamentals. And he hasn’t been there, done that 100 times yet. So, that’s the first time he’s done that. So, I wouldn’t say it’s—they’re not all the same. Some of them [are different]. A false start is a false start. And the timing of it [matters]. Again, we had six penalties, they had five. Historically, here in the last whatever, several years, five, seven, eight years, we have not been a very disciplined football team when it comes to penalties. We’ve been one of the worst and the Big 12, and nationally we’ve been in the bottom half of the country. And right now, again, we’ve got to continue to eliminate those. We’ve been able to come up, overcome it in the past. We can’t. The margin for air is very small. And like we’ve seen, and I think in the Kansas State game it was 11 penalties maybe, one-score game. Baylor [we had] the turnovers and end zone penalties, critical, and certainly we got punished.
“So, anything that we’re not doing right now, you’re talking about the mistakes and the discipline and things of that nature, all of that, it begins and ends with me and that’s my responsibility. And obviously, I’m doing a very poor job of managing all of that. If it’s a missed tackle, if it’s a drop pass, if it’s a false start, if it’s a missed field goal, if it’s a misfit on a kickoff, all of those things are [where] that’s my responsibility. And my job is to get it corrected. So, anyway, we don’t have the [margin]. Right now the margin is small. And the timing of the penalties, whether you’re taking, you know, a touchdown off the board because of we’re eight inches too far down the field or, again, we’re offsides and we get an interception and a late hit, everything’s negated because we’re lined up in the neutral zone. [That’s] another freshman mistake that’s not quite ready for the moment. So, there’s a couple of others, some that we were able to overcome. We ran into the return man. That was, again, an effort play, poor timing, and the guy didn’t have the ball yet. so, we can’t do that. So, but we were forced to punt on that one. I’m just kind of thinking through what some of those penalties were. But again, we’ve had a long history of not being disciplined, but we’ve been able to overcome it in the past, and this year we haven’t been able to. We’ve had a much smaller margin of error.”
“I remember Stockar McDougle scoring on the jumbo offense. That was kind of cool. And trying to fake it was…Tony Lindsey from Colorado. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, it was like a Super Bowl for us. That’s what I remember…I just remember, I remember those things. I remember I think it was the week of Thanksgiving. Righ? And I’m thinking, ‘Why do we got to play this game on Thanksgiving week? Why can’t it be like [another]?’ I think we had been used to part of that Thanksgiving week was a week that you had off and you played the next week. But not necessarily at Oklahoma, but I remember thinking that, too, if you want me to be transparent and honest. But then I now like it, you know, that you’re playing that week. But anyway, I remember winning. I can’t remember the score. I usually remember pretty good with scores. But I remember Stockar scoring in the jumbo package and Coach [Bob] Simmons and Tony Lindsay.”
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“Yeah. And again, Eric’s kind of a quiet leader. But man, his play is really loud. He’s having a monster season. I think this is the fastest to 1,100-plus yards since Adrian Peterson in 2004. We’ve had a bunch of great backs here. So, that obviously says a lot. He leads the Big 12 in rushing per carry, and I think he’s seventh among the month Power Five players. So, I think sixth nationally with 6.7 yards per carry. But running, catching, and I’m sure what’s being talked about with him, and he’s been outstanding in blitz pickup as well. You know, he’s not a real big guy. I mean, he’s muscled up, smaller in stature, but plays big in that way as well. Just he’s a perfectionist. He cares about his teammates. He’s just a great teammate. I think the best reward that you can have as a player is the respect of your teammates. And he has that. Really proud of him and the consistency that he’s performed at. This is a game of performance, and he has shown up each and every week and sometimes he’s made something out of nothing. But he can make a miss on the second and third level, make him miss it at the first level, for that matter. Runs through trash. Can get outside with speed and run with patience and tempo inside. And so [he’s] just been outstanding catching the ball in space as well. It’s fun to see a guy like that that’s so unassuming and hard working have success.”
“So, he, Jeremiah approached me and introduced himself when I was down at a bowl practice at the Alamo Bowl. And he introduced himself, and kind of we had 20 or 30 minutes where we talked through his journey and certainly his journey here. And I let him know that I watched him. He was actually coaching then. Loved his energy, a real infectious personality, a light inside of him, and he’s just a really ultra positive, great teammate. You could see the players really respected him. And he expressed the desire to potentially stick around and coach. And so I was all for that. And again, the game isn’t for everyone. And so what’s cool is that the game has been so good to him that he wanted an opportunity to stay around the game and pay the game back. And so he shows up every day, takes great pride in what he does, over-deliverer. He cares what you think. He’s gonna be a terrific coach. He’s got great relational skills. Really, really bright, great communicator, full of energy and has a willingness to be coached as well. So, [he’s] a real humble guy. I love him.”
“Well, I know they came back and said they shouldn’t have. And it’s bang-bang. They thought that he wasn’t down yet. It’s not reviewable. So, it happens. We’re all human.”
“Yeah, again, they’ve got some good stuff on them. Y’all already know. But Spencer Sanders, I think he started 52-ish or so games in high school as a quarterback. And then this is his 41st start, I think, in college. He might be—I bet he’s a top 10-er for sure. Can I say that, top 10-er? I can if I want. But it’s not that appropriate. So, Top 10. You know, who has 90-some starts as a quarterback? Incredibly experienced. He’s a winner. He’s instinctive. He’s fast. He’s explosive. Got a quick release. You can tell he’s played. He’s got a lot of moxie. You can tell he’s played a lot of football. The team rallies behind him, plays off of his leadership and his energy. Sometimes the worst thing you can do is cover everybody because he can really run and he’s a true dual threat guy. They’ve got designed quarterback runs for him. They do a good job of moving the launch point. But he makes all the throws, really excellent player.
“They’re averaging 35 points a game and Top 25 in scoring. Again, he leads the Big 12 in total offense, so No. 1, top guy, 290 yards a game. He’s completing over 60% of his passes. He’s an All-Big 12 returner, two wins shy of the school record for the most victories as a starting quarterback. So, I guess that means he beat Mike Gundy’s record at some point in time. So, that’s good. And then defensively they lead the Big 12 in third down defense, been really outstanding, and they’re 11th in the country in tackles for loss per game. So, they’ve been disruptive. They’ve had success. They had a tremendous year defensively last year, a lot of those same guys returning. They do have confidence. I know they’re banged up a little bit. But top to bottom I think they have belief in what they do. They had a great win, forced five turnovers against Iowa State last week.
“So, it’s gonna be a great challenge. This game is always [where] you never know how it’s gonna go. Throw the records out, as we all know. I really like 20 [Dominic Richardson], their running back. He comes downhill with purpose. They do a nice job in the run game with him as well. I know he’s an Oklahoma kid. They’ve got more Oklahoma guys on their roster than we do, and by a long ways. That’s something that I recognized when I first got the job 11 and a half months ago, you know, the depth of the [in-state kids]. And they played for the Big 12 Championship and beat us a year ago with a roster that looks like that.
“So, that’s a credit to them finding guys and developing them. And they’ve done a great job. They beat Texas. They had TCU down 28-7 or 28-0. It was 28-7 at one time, and TCU had a crazy comeback in the second half. So, [they competed with] two of the best teams this season anyway in conference. And again, you lose your starting quarterback, it’s tough. I think they have had some other injuries as well and went through a little rough patch but got a really good win against a really disciplined team in Iowa State last week. So, it’s gonna be a great challenge for us.”
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